A 10% decline in fourth-quarter sales in its professional/trade segment is not enough to make John Wiley change its strategy for that segment, company CEO Will Pesce told analysts in a conference call discussing year-end results for fiscal 2008, ended April 30. The professional/trade group was on track for a terrific year—until it “ran into a wall” in the final period, Pesce explained. The decline came primarily, but not entirely, from one account, Pesce said. Business at the unnamed account fell in the fourth quarter, but reorders from other chains were also below expectations, he added.

Wiley's final analysis is that while the inventory correction at that one account was a major factor for the poor fourth quarter, the slowing economy and sluggish book environment also played a part. Sales were slow in some specific areas, such as travel, where Pesce noted that book sales were soft, and advertising on Frommers.com was also off. Pesce said Wiley will be “careful on the spending side” in the professional/trade segment, particularly in the first half of the year, but that he expects sales to improve in the second half of fiscal 2009. “We're as committed as ever to the categories we're in,” Pesce said. P/T remains Wiley's largest domestic business, but with its 2007 Blackwell purchase, the STM/scholarly market is now Wiley's largest global business.

Wiley is looking for a sales increase in the mid-single digits in fiscal 2009 for the entire company.

Segment 2007 2008 % Change
Source: Reed Business Information
Professional/trade $390.5 $395.2 1.2%
STM 230.9 235.1 1.8
Higher Ed. 162.5 164.7 1.3
Total U.S. 783.9 795.0 1.4
Blackwell 105.7 485.2 NM
International 448.9 503.3 12.1
Intersegment (103.9) (109.8)
Total 1,234.6 1,673.5 35.5
Net income 94.1 128.9 37.0